Statistics from the 1861 census tell us that 77.6% of the population of Ireland were members of the Roman Catholic church, 11.9% were Church of Ireland, and 9% were Presbyterian. The other 1.5% of the population were of other religions including Methodist, Quaker, Baptist and Jewish.
The first Methodist society was established in Dublin in 1746 and the Wesleyan Methodist societies began a year later with a visit of John and Charles Wesley to Ireland. At that time, John Wesley encouraged followers to belong to the Church of Ireland (Wesley himself was a clergy member of the Church of England). Like the Presbyterian church there was a schism in 1816 with the Primitive Wesleyan Methodists continuing in the Church of Ireland (until 1878), and the larger Wesleyan Methodists forming their own churches. It's important during this time to check for Methodist records in other Protestant denominations, primarily Church of Ireland, but also Presbyterian and sometimes Quaker. Methodist records consist primarily of baptisms and marriages and these registers are typically still in local custody or in some cases, have been transferred to the Methodist Historical Society in Belfast. Additional information on these records can be found here. Some records from the northern counties have been microfilmed and are available at PRONI. Five Methodist churches in Belfast were included in the digitization project done by PRONI in 2017, however, these records are only available for viewing onsite at PRONI. If you have Methodist clergy from Ireland in your ancestry, the Westley Historical Society has a list of clergy on their website. For additional information, visit the Wesley Historical Society.
The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) have some of the best religious records in Ireland. They migrated from England beginning in 1654 and their Monthly Meeting minutes deal with all types of events, including births, marriages and deaths. They also note disciplinary actions, as well as migrations. The records have been microfilmed and are available at the National Library and PRONI, as well as the Family History Library. The Friends Historical Library is located in Dublin, however they have very limited hours. Make sure you check prior to planning a visit. In addition, FindMyPast has an extensive collection of Irish Quaker Records.
There was a small Baptist community in Ireland and like most of the smaller denominations, their records remain in local custody. Baptisms occurred as adults and don’t normally give an age. The Irish Baptism Historical Society coexists with the Irish Baptist College in Moira, County Down.
The Jewish population in Ireland has been small, however records do survive from the 1820s in Dublin. The Irish Jewish Genealogical Society has compiled a database of over 61,000 names covering the time period from the 1700s to the present day. The Irish Jewish Museum is located in Dublin with limited hours, so contact them before visiting.
Perhaps your family tradition says that your ancestors in Ireland were Huguenot (French Protestant exiles). Early emigrants were isolated in a few communities and in Dublin, the earliest records date to 1668. Most of these churches were conformist (Church of Ireland) churches, although some later affiliated with the Presbyterian church. Many of the registers of these early churches were destroyed in the 1922 Public Records Office fire, however, prior to their destruction transcripts were published by the Huguenot Society of London. The transcriptions are available in the National Library of Ireland.
When looking for individuals of any religion check RootsIreland. From the Search screen go to Online Sources and select the county. Most counties have at least one Genealogy/ Heritage Centre that adds records to the RootsIreland databases. You will find all of the religious denominations (except Jewish) listed on at least some of these sites. It's always helpful to check and see what is covered.
Please feel free to like or comment on the blogs. Do you know of a research that others might benefit from using? Leave a comment.
April 25th is DNA Day. Check out the Promotions page for special pricing and stock up on kits to take when visiting relatives this summer. Note that many of these promotions end at midnight on April 25th.